The French National Research Agency Projects for science

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ANR funded project

(DS0704) 2016
Projet ProgrammableMatter

Hardware and software for creating programmable matter

In this project, we will investigate a new smart system made from a hardware component and a software approach that will enable the creation of programmable matter. The hardware component is a mass-producible, sub-mm, MEMS, namely a micro-robot using computationally controlled actuators used for power distribution, communication, adhesion, and locomotion. The software approach aims to provide a language enabling scalable, real-time, efficient, expressive and at the same time safe programming of an ensemble of micro-robots and making this ensemble interacting with others communicating things through the IoT.

This research focuses on the main challenge to programmable matter: Scaling. For hardware the challenge is to scale down the size of the individual unit. For software the challenge is to scale up the number of elements that can be effectively controlled with a single, easy to understand program. Moreover, the simulation framework must scale up in the number of simulated micro-robots. We tackle the former by using a true 3-dimensional LSI/MEMS chip integration with deformable substrate as our main manufacturing method and a single effector, for all the necessary functionality of the unit. The latter is tackled creating Foxel a recursively scale-invariant functional shape description language implemented in a logic programming language, Meld, to create programs which are inherently concurrent, distributed, fault-tolerant, and also amenable to formal proofs.

This project is a follow-up of the Claytronics project initiated by Intel and Carnegie Mellon University and then co-leaded with FEMTO-ST.


Femto ST Franche-Comté Electronique, Mécanique, Thermique et Optique - Sciences et Technologies

LIMMS - UMI2820 Laboratory of Integrated Micro Mechatronic Systems (LIMMS) CNRS UMI 2820


ANR grant: 439 408 euros
Beginning and duration: octobre 2016 - 48 mois


ANR Programme: (DS0704) 2016

Project ID: ANR-16-CE33-0022

Project coordinator:
Monsieur Julien Bourgeois (Franche-Comté Electronique, Mécanique, Thermique et Optique - Sciences et Technologies)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.